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Yefim L. Kogan, Zena N. Kogan, and David B. Mechem

Abstract

The errors of formulations of cloud retrievals based on radar reflectivity, mean Doppler velocity, and Doppler spectrum width are evaluated under the controlled framework of the Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs). Cloud radar parameters are obtained from drop size distributions generated by the high-resolution Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) large-eddy simulation (LES) model with explicit microphysics. It is shown that in drizzling stratocumulus the accuracy of cloud liquid water (Ql) retrieval can be substantially increased when information on Doppler velocity or Doppler spectrum width is included in addition to radar reflectivity. In the moderate drizzle case (drizzle rate R of about 1 mm day−1) the mean and standard deviation of errors is of the order of 10% for Ql values larger than 0.2 g m−3; in stratocumulus with heavy drizzle (R > 2 mm day−1) these values are approximately 20%–30%. Similarly, employing Doppler radar parameters significantly improves the accuracy of drizzle flux retrieval. The use of Doppler spectrum width σd instead of Doppler velocity yields about the same accuracy, thus demonstrating that both Doppler parameters have approximately the same potential for improving microphysical retrievals. It is noted that the error estimates herein represent the theoretical lower bound on retrieval errors, because the actual errors will inevitably increase, first and foremost, due to uncertainties in estimation contributions from air turbulence.

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Xubin Zeng and Aihui Wang

Abstract

While progress has been made in the treatment of turbulence below, within, and above canopy in land models, not much attention has been paid to the convergence of canopy roughness length and displacement height to bare soil values as the above-ground biomass, or the sum of leaf and stem area indices, becomes zero. Preliminary formulations have been developed to ensure this convergence for the Community Land Model version 3 (CLM3) and are found to significantly improve the wintertime simulation of sensible heat flux (SH) compared with observational data over the Cabauw site in the Netherlands. The simulation of latent heat flux (LH) is also moderately improved. For global offline CLM3 simulations, the new formulations change SH by more than 5 W m−2 over many regions, while the change of LH is less than 1 W m−2 over most of the regions.

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Xia Zhang, Shu Fen Sun, and Yongkang Xue

Abstract

Proper simulation of soil freezing and thawing processes is an important issue in cold region climate studies. This paper reports on a frozen soil parameterization scheme for cold region studies that includes water flow and heat transfer in soil with water phase change. The mixed-form Richards’ equation is adopted to describe soil water flow affected by thermal processes in frozen soil. In addition, both liquid water and ice content have been taken into account in the frozen soil hydrologic and thermal property parameterization. To solve the complex nonlinear equation set and to ensure water conservation during simulation of complex phase change processes, efficient computational procedures have been designed and a new modified Picard iteration scheme is extended to solve the mixed-form Richards’ equation with phase change. The frozen soil model was evaluated using observational data from the field station at Rosemount, Minnesota, and the Tibet D66 site. The results show that the model is capable of providing good simulations of the evolution of temperature and liquid water content in frozen soil. Comparisons of simulation results from sensitivity studies indicate that there is a maximum difference of about 50 W m−2 in sensible and ground heat fluxes with and without the inclusion of the effect of ice content on matric potential and that using the exponential relationship between hydraulic conductivity and ice content produces realistic results.

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Binayak P. Mohanty and Jianting Zhu

Abstract

In this study, the authors investigate effective soil hydraulic parameter averaging schemes for steady-state flow in heterogeneous shallow subsurfaces useful to land–atmosphere interaction modeling. “Effective” soil hydraulic parameters of the heterogeneous shallow subsurface are obtained by conceptualizing the soil as an equivalent homogeneous medium. It requires that the effective homogeneous soil discharges the same mean surface moisture flux (evaporation or infiltration) as the heterogeneous media. Using the simple Gardner unsaturated hydraulic conductivity function, the authors derive the effective value for the saturated hydraulic conductivity Ks or the shape factor α under various hydrologic scenarios and input hydraulic parameter statistics. Assuming one-dimensional vertical moisture movement in the shallow unsaturated soils, both scenarios of horizontal (across the surface landscape) and vertical (across the soil profile) heterogeneities are investigated. The effects of hydraulic parameter statistics, surface boundary conditions, domain scales, and fractal dimensions in case of nested soil hydraulic property structure are addressed. Results show that the effective parameters are dictated more by the α heterogeneity for the evaporation scenario and mainly by Ks variability for the infiltration scenario. Also, heterogeneity orientation (horizontal or vertical) of soil hydraulic parameters impacts the effective parameters. In general, an increase in both the fractal dimension and the domain scale enhances the heterogeneous effects of the parameter fields on the effective parameters. The impact of the domain scale on the effective hydraulic parameters is more significant as the fractal dimension increases.

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Kevin E. Trenberth, Lesley Smith, Taotao Qian, Aiguo Dai, and John Fasullo

Abstract

A brief review is given of research in the Climate Analysis Section at NCAR on the water cycle. Results are used to provide a new estimate of the global hydrological cycle for long-term annual means that includes estimates of the main reservoirs of water as well as the flows of water among them. For precipitation P over land a comparison among three datasets enables uncertainties to be estimated. In addition, results are presented for the mean annual cycle of the atmospheric hydrological cycle based on 1979–2000 data. These include monthly estimates of P, evapotranspiration E, atmospheric moisture convergence over land, and changes in atmospheric storage, for the major continental landmasses, zonal means over land, hemispheric land means, and global land means. The evapotranspiration is computed from the Community Land Model run with realistic atmospheric forcings, including precipitation that is constrained by observations for monthly means but with high-frequency information taken from atmospheric reanalyses. Results for EP are contrasted with those from atmospheric moisture budgets based on 40-yr ECMWF Re-Analysis (ERA-40) data. The latter show physically unrealistic results, because evaporation often exceeds precipitation over land, especially in the Tropics and subtropics.

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Richard G. Lawford, John Roads, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, and Phillip Arkin

Abstract

This paper describes how the articles in this special issue support the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) priorities with a specific focus on the advancement of hydrometeorological sciences. It explores how hydrometeorological research has been used to improve process understanding and forecast models, provide datasets for model validation, and support water resource applications. In particular, in this collection of papers, the water balance is considered at both global and watershed scales. In this process the limitations of reanalysis products and inputs to hydrologic models are identified. Some of these limitations arise from the lack of understanding of orographic processes and the best way to incorporate them into models. Several modeling studies reported in this special issue address different aspects of the role of topography in land–atmosphere interaction over mountain systems including the mountains in Asia and North America. Other land processes are considered as well including soil and vegetation processes. A limitation in these modeling studies arises from issues related to model initialization and validation data. One precipitation paper in this collection considers the information on extreme precipitation events that can be extracted from these data while another reports on a new algorithm for observing light rain and drizzle events. As phase II of GEWEX progresses, more emphasis will be placed on the use of GEWEX products to explore climate science questions related to the global energy and water cycle and its applications. Some areas of opportunity for future GEWEX activities include the development of high-resolution integrated products, flux estimates from satellites, and open processes (or test beds) for product improvement.

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Jinwon Kim and Hyun-Suk Kang

Abstract

To understand the influence of the Sierra Nevada on the water cycle in California the authors have analyzed low-level winds and water vapor fluxes upstream of the mountain range in regional climate model simulations. In a low Froude number (Fr) regime, the upstream low-level wind disturbances are characterized by the rapid weakening of the crosswinds and the appearance of a stagnation point over the southwestern foothills. The weakening of the low-level inflow is accompanied by the development of along-ridge winds that take the form of a barrier jet over the western slope of the mountain range. Such upstream wind disturbances are either weak or nonexistent in a high-Fr case. A critical Fr (Frc) of 0.35 inferred in this study is within the range of those suggested in previous observational and numerical studies. The depth of the blocked layer estimated from the along-ridge wind profile upstream of the northern Sierra Nevada corresponds to Frc between 0.3 and 0.45 as well. Associated with these low-level wind disturbances are significant low-level southerly moisture fluxes over the western slope and foothills of the Sierra Nevada in the low-Fr case, which result in significant exports of moisture from the southern Sierra Nevada to the northern region. This along-ridge low-level water vapor transport by blocking-induced barrier jets in a low-Fr condition may result in a strong north–south precipitation gradient over the Sierra Nevada.

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Guoxiong Wu, Yimin Liu, Qiong Zhang, Anmin Duan, Tongmei Wang, Rijin Wan, Xin Liu, Weiping Li, Zaizhi Wang, and Xiaoyun Liang

Abstract

This paper attempts to provide some new understanding of the mechanical as well as thermal effects of the Tibetan Plateau (TP) on the circulation and climate in Asia through diagnosis and numerical experiments. The air column over the TP descends in winter and ascends in summer and regulates the surface Asian monsoon flow. Sensible heating on the sloping lateral surfaces appears from the authors’ experiments to be the major driving source. The retarding and deflecting effects of the TP in winter generate an asymmetric dipole zonal-deviation circulation, with a large anticyclone gyre to the north and a cyclonic gyre to the south. Such a dipole deviation circulation enhances the cold outbreaks from the north over East Asia, results in a dry climate in south Asia and a moist climate over the Indochina peninsula and south China, and forms the persistent rainfall in early spring (PRES) in south China. In summer the TP heating generates a cyclonic spiral zonal-deviation circulation in the lower troposphere, which converges toward and rises over the TP. It is shown that because the TP is located east of the Eurasian continent, in summertime the meridional winds and vertical motions forced by the Eurasian continental-scale heating and the TP local heating are in phase over the eastern and central parts of the continent. The monsoon in East Asia and the dry climate in middle Asia are therefore intensified.

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Ana M. B. Nunes and John O. Roads

Abstract

Initialization of the moisture profiles has been used to overcome the imbalance between analysis schemes and prediction models that generates the so-called spinup problem seen in the hydrological fields. Here precipitation assimilation through moisture adjustment has been proposed as a technique to reduce this problem in regional climate simulations by adjusting the specific humidity according to 3-hourly North American Regional Reanalysis rain rates during two simulated years: 1988 and 1993. A control regional simulation provided the initial condition fields for both simulations. The precipitation assimilation simulation was then compared to the control regional climate simulation, reanalyses, and observations to determine whether assimilation of precipitation had a positive influence on modeled surface water and energy budget terms. In general, rainfall assimilation improved the regional model surface water and energy budget terms over the conterminous United States. Precipitation and runoff correlated better than the control and the global reanalysis fields to the regional reanalysis and available observations. Upward shortwave and downward short- and longwave radiation fluxes had regional seasonal cycles closer to the observed values than the control, and the near-surface temperature anomalies were also improved.

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J. Li, X. Gao, and S. Sorooshian

Abstract

Estimating the water budgets in a small-scale basin is a challenge, especially in the mountainous western United States, where the terrain is complex and observational data in the mountain areas are sparse. This manuscript reports on research that downscaled 5-yr (1999–2004) hydrometeorological fields over the upper Rio Grande basin from a 2.5° NCEP–NCAR reanalysis to a 4-km local scale using a regional climate model [fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University–National Center for Atmospheric Research Mesoscale Model (MM5), version 3]. The model can reproduce the terrain-related precipitation distribution—the trend of diurnal, seasonal, and interannual precipitation variability—although poor snow simulation caused it to overestimate precipitation and evapotranspiration in the cold season. The outcomes from the coupled model are also comparable to offline Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC) and Land Data Assimilation System (LDAS)/Mosaic land surface simulations that are driven by observed and/or analyzed surface meteorological data.

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